Marriage Made in Hell

by Mistress Sarah and The Upholsterer

Summary: Courtesy of
Merriam-Webster's online Collegiate Dictionary:

Main Entry: 2con ju gate
Pronunciation: -j&-"gAt
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): -gat ed; -gat ing
Date: 1530
transitive senses
1 : to give in prescribed order the various inflectional forms of -- used especially of a verb
2 : to join together
intransitive senses
1 : to become joined together
2 a : to pair and fuse in conjugation b : to pair in synapsis

Disclaimer: Neither the Mistress nor the Upholsterer own these characters, but they love to use them.
Warning: The following story is when two wildly different personalities, The Upholster & Mistress Sarah, decided to conjugate on a piece of fan-fiction.
Rating: NC-17

Looking back, I think I should have listened to my gut instinct and decided not to follow up on the lead that the Apocalypse Box had given me. It was being rather puckish lately, which I should know by now, means trouble for yours truly.

Pyxis XI, it had suggested, and like the fool I was, I had mindlessly agreed to try it out. The rangers hadn't found anything noteworthy in a while, and I was feeling... restless. I had the flagship of EF and no particular place to go and that damn box had done everything short of promising that the cure was there. That's why I agreed to go to Pyxis XI, almost off the known star charts, ignoring that small sense of unease I felt about that damnable box’s insistence that I get there.

Very little was known about it, except for the fact that the natives were a little... eccentric when it came to dealing with outsiders.

That should have been the tip-off right then and there.

Eilerson was trying to give me a quick language course. I was mangling the language horribly, as it was tonal and had clicks in it. Must be due to the native's split tongues? Pyxis XI was an odd planet. Thanks to their culture I had to do all the talking in their language as it was considered terribly declasse of the aliens that arrived on their planet, not to speak the language God help me! An entire planet that thought they were French! We had arrived; Max had provided translation services until we realized that the Head Pyxian had palmed us off on someone else. The Dowager Cigi, who was old-school Pyxian, cut Max off in mid-sentence, and told him in no uncertain terms that it was beneath her station to have a translator talk to her. Either I talked to her or nobody did.

Then she had kicked us out of the sandpit. Pyxians were reptilian humanoids and they liked basking in the sun. It was like being in a gigantic sand trap in the universal golf course. Sand and heat was the weather forecast for the next millennia.

Max hadn't been thrilled, but he had tried his best with me. But damn it, I was an Earth Force Captain, not a linguist and the language made no sense. So we practiced short speeches until I was able to twist my tongue into the right position, and I was able to hiccup and snort with some sort of flair.

"Your accent is abominable, but the Dowager Cigi will have to handle it."

I went back, and proceeded to talk to the old bitch about why we were there, and what we needed. I was doing fairly well, with much humble apologies for my accent and things went fine until I tried to introduce John Matheson. A brief pause, a tickle in my throat, and I suddenly realized that my introduction of "John Matheson, my Executive Officer" hadn't come out right. So I tried again vainly, assuring the dowager that I was his superior officer.

Her face suddenly looked disgusted, or as disgusted as a reptilian face could, and I suddenly realized that I hadn't used the right term. Oh god, I didn't just say what I think I just did. Looking out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that Max was turning scarlet, and I suddenly had a bad feeling. I HATED it when Eilerson turned that particular shade as that meant he was laughing at me.

Oh, FUCK. I just didn't say that John Matheson served underneath me in a sexual manner did I? I began fumbling with the language, it going clear out of my head, and I tried again, vainly to put our relationship into the correct terms. If anything, I think I got her more annoyed as I suddenly realized that my comment of how the two of us had a long standing friendship as CO to XO actually implied that I topped him regularly and that John enjoyed it. The language flew from my mind like it had wings, and I suddenly began mentally kicking myself.

It was going to be a really bad day, I could just tell.

She dismissed me, and began talking rapidly with Max. For someone that didn't like talking with the middleman, she was haranguing him like a woman at a market who just realized that she was sold rotten fruit. Max was in over his head, and soon, he was telling John Matheson to come over to Cigi. I was being ignored, and Cigi was snapping questions at Max, who was in turn asking the questions to John. Max was quietly asking John the questions in Standard, but I could hear that they were mainly asking about our alleged relationship. She then snapped her fingers, and Max told us all to leave, as he and Cigi had to talk.

Why doesn't that make me feel any better?

"That didn't go well." I admitted to John Matheson.

"What did you say to her? She got really pissed there."

"I made small talk. About the weather, which apparently you don't do in polite circles on this planet." I lied, figuring that John would never find out what I said, as I'd threaten Eilerson into keeping his mouth shut.

"Really?" John seemed amused, as though he knew I was lying.

"Would I lie to you?" I asked in my best sincere voice.

"Then why did she ask me all those questions?"

"Maybe, she thinks you're cute." Offering that hopefully, I prayed that was the reason. Please?

I wasn't sure what to expect when Eilerson told me he had to talk to me, but I decided to take some aspirin before he showed up in my quarters. Somehow I just knew I'd end up with a migraine, or wishing I was dead. God damn it, I really blew it down on the planet, and this was supposedly a very important stop in our search for the Cure.

Eilerson walked into my quarters and immediately started with the high handed attitude of his that I can't stand, especially when I know that I really deserve it. "Captain. What in hell made you use that particular verb with that particular conjugation? It's a rather obscene phrase on this planet. You're lucky she didn't call the guards out to shoot you dead in front of her."

"You didn't warn me." My voice was icy, and Max shook his head.

"I didn't know. Apparently, the Dowager Cigi was the old emperor's concubine so you managed to offend her on a personal basis with your comments about your alleged sexual relations with the young Lieutenant. The current Emperor is her grandson from her relationship with the old emperor and it's a long convoluted political web. If she had been married to him, she would be the Empress, so she's still rather miffed about that."

"Cut the fucking political history, already, I said that I didn't know." I growled that at Max who was looking too damn smug.

"Anyway, she wasn't happy with you, and she felt some sympathy for Matheson, being a young person being sexually misused by someone in authority."

"Eilerson. Cut to the chase, already."

"Apparently, she thinks you're a foreign fornicator, if not worse. I managed to convince her that the sheep were safe." Max flashed me a smile, and I felt my headache return in full-force.

"MAX!" My tone apparently conveyed the fact that I wasn't happy, plus the fact that I was about two inches from his face, and my fist was obviously ready.

"The problem is, since the area we want to search is on her property, and it's considered sacred ground, she's not going to let you or anyone else on the Excalibur on the ground. She doesn't want it desecrated." Max seemed to be slightly worried about my temper, so he had back stepped to mere scholastic arrogance, rather than the amused arrogance he had been displaying earlier.


"It's get better, mon capitan. I found out what the price would be to raise you in her self-esteem, as I tried to convince her that your relationship with Matheson was on the up and up."

"And?" My voice was icy, and suddenly I realized that Max was giving my desk a quick look. If I didn’t know better I think the older man was wondering if there was anything on my desk with what I could cudgel him.

"You two are getting married, tomorrow."

"WHAT?" All the fight abruptly drained out of me, to be replaced by a feeling of sick panic. It was the type of panic that I hadn't felt since grade school when Sister Suzanne had caught me shooting spitballs at Mother Ro. I couldn’t sit down for a week by the time she was done with me.

"In a Pyxian ceremony. She's sponsoring it, and she's already got her people working on it. It's the only way she'll let you on the site. She's rather annoyed with you as she still thinks you've taken advantage of John. Apparently she thinks he's just a sweet innocent who's being taken advantage of by a lecherous rapscallion and therefore she’s doing this to protect him from you. Cigi doesn’t want you throwing John away when you find a new…" The Xeno-archeologist looked at me, rightly decided that whatever he was going to say was the wrong thing, and then shut up.

Why is everyone fooled by John's innocent face?

"Did you say anything to John?" Or anyone on the ship, I felt like screaming. This would spread like wildfire and it wouldn't do John's reputation any good. OK- it would make me look like a goddamn idiot!

"No. I figured you'd like to propose first." Max smirked at me, and I suddenly hated him. He stepped back, as I suddenly realized that both of my fists were cocked. First it would be a right cross and then a left hook, leaving Eilerson down on the floor, bloody and unconscious. All of a sudden, I really relished that idea.

"Get out. GET OUT NOW!"

"Captain. Don't you want to hear about the wedding ceremony? You might want to take a look at this, as I think if you screw any of the details up, she's going to hang you by your balls."

"You're not going to tell anyone about this. Understood, Mr. Eilerson?"

"Captain? Does that mean I'm not getting invited to the wedding?"

"Get OUT!"

Max left, and I found myself walking over to the A-Box, wondering what its view on things was. I asked it, and it told me to start shopping for a tux.

Again, I asked it, what was so special about this planet? Then it got taciturn and rather sullen, as though the damn thing was pouting that I again had doubted its insistence on going here.

Oh damn it, what was I going to say to John?

I called John to my quarters, and I told him that we needed to talk.

"John?" I was trying to be upbeat and cheerful. "We've got a slight problem. You know how particular they are with their language..." John Matheson was a good friend, who's been with me through thick and thin, and I just had the sinking feeling that I had just really blown it big time.

As in… the Titanic, or… Babylon 1,2,3 and 4.

John gave me a look that plainly said that he didn't like the way this was heading. "Spit it out."

"What is your opinion on weddings? Do you want a big church wedding...."

John Matheson wasn't happy. No, sir-ee. If I had to choose a word to describe how John was reacting to my faux pas, I'd say there was several that came to mind. Not at amused at all. Furious. Pissed. Not a happy camper. Originally, I really thought that he was just giving me a hard time, wanting the chance to see his CO squirm in the hot seat for a bit even after I assured him that this wasn’t going to be a binding ceremony.

Then John called my bluff and pulled up all the marital laws he could find, and then his mood turned really dark when he realized that I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. The ceremony was both legal and binding.

"So. We have to get MARRIED to satisfy that parochial stiff-necked, narrow-minded dowager?" and it went downhill from there.

"Jeez, John if I didn't know better, I think you didn't want to get married." I was trying to be light and whimsical, and John Matheson's dark eyes told me that he wasn't amused.

"Not to you." He snapped. "Maybe security team SW-Beta would like it. I mean Irena and the other three women of SW-Beta have always eyed you, but I can safely say that I've never been interested. At all."

"John..." I tried to see his side of things, but the way he was carrying on, made it sound like I was a mass-murderer or something.

"Matthew." His voice was like ice. "So to get access to this site that MIGHT save ten billion people or so, I've got to pretend to get married to you? Give me a bag, and I'd do it for Earth, but this little ceremony is NOT going in the personnel records. Now get Eilerson down here so we can plan this thing."

"Do we really need Eilerson involved in this?" I smiled at him hopefully, but John's dark eyes were furious.

"Better get Eilerson here now, as I don't want any more surprises during this wedding thing due to your inability to conjugate the correct verb."

"Ok, John." I was going to learn humility from this experience, so the best idea I could think of was to handle this with dignity and to stay far away from John Matheson, as I could smell the steam coming out of his ears.

Let me first recommend, that you should never use Mr. Eilerson as a wedding consultant. While his suggestions on wedding party colors, flowers and gifts may have been appropriate for a high society wedding during Earth's last golden age; none of the ideas were acceptable, especially since the other groom wanted to kill me.

My feeble attempts at joking about the subject at hand had gotten John even angrier with me, and I finally had given up my attempts to calm him down. It was going to be an absolutely hellish time for both of us, apparently.

Max made a few snippy comments about prenuptial agreements, and John had glared at him, silently warning him to stop it with the smart-ass comments.

"I'm a linguist, not a wedding planner," Max said in defense, his voice dripping in pretend hurt.

"Try, Mr. Eilerson." John Matheson spoke in a tone of voice that plainly said that he wasn't amused with Max. "Or else I'll space you myself."

Max looked startled, and then snickered. "Oh dear, someone's got a case of pre-wedding jitters."

"SHUT UP, MAX" John and I chorused that, and Eilerson looked even more amused.

"Tsk, tsk, tsk. You shouldn't yell at the wedding planner."

John Matheson shot Max such an evil look that the Xeno-archeologist immediately settled right down while I recorded that look for future use.

"Here’s the situation. She wanted a big wedding with all your crew witnessing it."

I felt a scream coming on while Max began detailing the wedding plans. Giving him credit, at least he managed not to have the crew witness it. That would have been bad. VERY BAD. While normally, I try not to let my emotions surface, I think that screaming might be a very good idea right now as it might wake me from this unbelievable nightmare. I gave John a quick look out of the corner of my eye, when Eilerson mentioned the little bit about the public consummation of the marriage. As in the groom and groom displaying more than a mere public display of affection.

Try like… well, Fucking, on the goddamn dance floor.

John Matheson scared the hell out of me, as he was obviously trying to calm himself down. He was slowly inhaling and exhaling, and for a moment, I wondered if he was going to start screaming at me. I’ve seen him get this way once or twice when "St. Job" Matheson is at the limits of his patience, but never have I been the one that has gotten him that upset. It was at this point; Max proved to me that he is an extremely intelligent man, as that’s when he decided to leave the two of us alone. No comments about colors, flowers or prenuptial agreements, he quickly zipped to the door, and then threw out the real curve ball.

"The Pyxians do their wedding ceremonies in the nude."

John Matheson displayed the common sense and decorum that I have long admired in him, as he waited until after Eilerson left before he began telling me exactly what he thought of me.

When I first heard about this ceremony, I had mentally groaned. Once again, "Resolute and Stalwart" John Matheson was going to have to pick up the pieces after Matthew "Bull in a China Shop" Gideon got done fucking things up. I had decided to pretend that I was really pissed, instead of merely resigned and annoyed. After picking up after him for so many years, I had gotten used to the fact that I was the designated Gideon picker-upper. But just because I had accepted it, didn’t mean that I had stopped trying to get Gideon to grow up. I began asking a few questions, and then I called Gideon’s bluff on how legal his farce was going to be.

Binding. I could hear the snap of the shackle as it was closed around my throat.

Ok- this was for ten billion people. Sarah and the rest of the teams had appeared almost positive that something would come of this planet due to the brief planetary scan we had done when we were in orbit.

If it kept us on the damn planet, possibly saving the lives of the people back on Terra in the process, I’d be happy. We could always annul it, as it was done under false pretenses, and we weren’t going to actually consummate it.

Wait a second, what was that stuff that Max was so glibly reporting.


Wait! This is where I get off of the goddamn ride, as I’m about to throw up. MATT? You had agreed to this before reading the fine print? You’re a fucking idiot!

I suddenly looked at Matt in moderate distaste. He simply wasn’t my type for well, recreational activity. First of all, he’d probably always want to be the one on top, as he was thoroughly Alpha Male. Besides, he’s my commanding officer. They have rules and regulations regarding this and while I’m sure I could strengthen my shields enough to prevent accidental mental comment with him, if this ever got out it would destroy my career. First Telepathic EF Officer Court Martialed for sleeping with his CO in PUBLIC, no less.

I had long known that I was the torchbearer and role model for other Telepaths, and I suddenly worried about how my being Court Martialed for this asinine scheme would affect my fellow Telepaths. During my years in EF, I had heard occasionally from the few other Telepaths in EF, and I had been surprised by their appreciation of me breaking that barrier preventing Telepaths from being in EF. What the hell was Jones going to say? To work so hard, to come so far, and to have Gideon, pardon me for saying this, fuck things up by using the wrong verb?

I didn’t want to do this, not at all, but Sarah had appeared optimistic about this damn planet. She never got her hopes up anymore, but she had appeared… hopeful with regards to this planet. I’d have to talk to a few people before I agreed to do this. God, if there was a chance to save 10 billion people… Matthew, I really hated you for putting me into this position, and I decided to let him know in no uncertain terms that I was really pissed off. My justified tirade might even scare my Peter Pan into leaving the Never-never land he inhabited as I was fucking tired of being his Tinker Bell.

"I trusted you." I told Matt coldly. "Of all the people in the universe, you were the only person I ever trusted enough to talk to about how much pressure I am under constantly, being the first EF Telepath. I told you, how sometimes I feel how every damn person in the universe is waiting to tear me down at the first sign of any inappropriate behavior. I’ve told you how if I fail, I’ll have to live with the fact that I’ve destroyed every other Telepath who ever wanted to go beyond the black gloves and the badge of Psi Corps."


Matt was trying to patronize me, and I wasn’t in the fucking mood.

"I trusted you, God help me, but I did. Do you think me fucking you in public is not going to adversely affect my fellow Telepaths in EF when this gets out? Don’t you think that I’m going to be the butt of every crude joke in EF for the next ten years?"

"I swear to you, I didn’t know."

I was so angry that my hands were shaking, and I quickly put them in my pockets so he wouldn’t see how badly I was upset. Realizing that me leaving his office in this state of emotional upset would spread among the crew like wildfire; I began my old lessons of self-meditation.

Calm. Serenity. Peace. That didn’t help, as I was mentally kicking Gideon down the entire length of the Excalibur. Steel-toe boots and I was kicking him HARD. Steady, John. Deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. One… two… three… four… five.

Matt tried to tease me again, like this was some sort of joke.

Wanting to shatter his pretense so he might actually comprehend the gravity of the situation I was in, I let loose to the venom in my voice. "So, Matthew. What does it feel like to possibly save ten billion people at the possible price of every Telepaths’ hopes? I hope your Medal of Honor comforts you at night when you realize how you’ve destroyed my people."

For a moment, I thought I had gone too far with him, as I suddenly saw a look of absolute misery in his eyes. That fled quickly, as Matt’s bravado came back in full force.

"I’ll excuse that as I know your nervous about getting married." His tone was light, but I knew that I had scored deeply on him. "We’ll need to get a few legal things straightened out later, but I’m sure you want to go tell your family the good news. We’ll have a prenuptial dinner tonight in my quarters so we can work out a few details."

"I have no family as my parents died during the Telepath uprising. I have no one in the universe in which to share these happy tidings."

Then I left, and I went to my quarters, mentally cursing him out.

What was worth more - ten billions people verses a group of ‘Paths. I couldn’t really blame Matthew, but why did I feel like someone had given me thirty pieces of silver?

Just call me Judas.

MY people, John had said to me. He HAD trusted me, which implied that I no longer had his trust. How the hell was I going to get us out of this?

John arrived earlier than I had expected, before Eilerson arrived, and for a moment, I felt a brief flash of hope. Then he opened his mouth, and I realized that how trust, having been fostered through years upon years of experience, can be shattered by a single word, or in this case, verb.

"First things first, I’m doing this under protest. When it is completed, I am requesting a transfer off the Excalibur immediately. I don’t care if it’s a deep space garbage scow, as long as I am off this vessel. Do you understand?"

"Yes, I understand completely." I assured him quickly, wanting to appease him. Once he was in a better humor, he wouldn’t leave. Would he? Come on, John. The Excalibur was your family. You couldn’t be serious about leaving me… I mean… us?

He glared at me, his eyes filled with dark emotion, and I suddenly found myself grateful when Max announced himself at my door.

"Gentlemen. I did some research on the Pyxian weddings, and from the little bit I could find, this is what you’re going to need to do…."

The wedding-

"What is occurring now?" I asked. As a linguist and Xeno-archeologist, I was finding the Pyxian wedding ceremony to be quite interesting. Each participant had to write his or her own vows, and I was wondering what John Matheson had been busy scribbling down at breakfast. I don’t think he was writing a love poem or a sonnet, as he looked furious. Gideon looked uneasy, which was understandable, as he was nude in a midst of a crowd of Pyxians.

John, the lucky bridegroom, was approaching his intended, and the look in his eyes promised that Matt’s blood would soon be spilled onto the floor. He was holding something in his hand, and then suddenly, he threw it at Matt. It made direct contact with Matt at approximately three times light speed. The sound of it impacting on Matthew’s body was loud enough to be heard where I was standing.

The Pyxian translator, Jagio, was attempting to explain everything to me, but I could tell that John and his obvious lack of happy enthusiasm was puzzling her. Her tongue clicked in concern, and I again prompted her. "What is happening?"

"They must now approach each other. When they are about three meters from each other, they start with the Ritual of BALANGAN SURUH, throwing to each other a dozen small bundles of betel leaves with lime inside tied together with white yarn. They do it eagerly and happily, and everyone … should be… smiling happy." She looked in askance at John, who wasn’t smiling happily, and then took a deep breath to continue. "According to our customs and beliefs, betel leaves have the power to chase away bad spirits. By throwing betel leaves to each other, it should be proved that they are really the genuine persons, not some ghost or another person who pretends to be the bride or the bridegroom."

I really think Matthew was hoping that he was someone else pretending to be the bridegroom, as John Matheson was aiming directly at him. Betel leaves packed tightly with lime when thrown at warp speed really hurt, I hypothesized from the pain filled grimaces that Matthew was displaying. Matheson could have been a pitcher on the all-universe team as he threw one sizzling fast ball after another at a rather jumpy Gideon.

"They do not appear happy. What is the problem? The Dowager asks politely. Is there a problem?" The translator appeared quite concerned about the animosity between the newlyweds.

"Advise honorable and noble Dowager that in our culture, it is considered a bad omen to appear happy at one's wedding. It is seen as inviting one's enemies to steal away one's espoused. They pretend great unhappiness to prevent their foes from preventing the blessed event from occurring."

"Ah. Your culture is quite... unusual. No offense is intended by this humble servant, but... I would almost say that the younger one hates the older one."

"He is a gifted actor."


After John had hit me repeatedly with the betel leaves, the two of us stood next to each other, and John held my left hand tightly with his right hand. His grip was strong, and rather painful, and suddenly Sarah began wrapping a silk cord around our two wrists. She wrapped it around our wrists seven times, and then Max tied it tightly together.

John Matheson still looked unhappy, but suddenly he began to simper, for the lack of a better word, in a blatantly fake attempt at appearing to be the happy groom. He was going to make me pay for this, and pay deeply. I knew that the minute he had picked Eilerson as his 'second' at our wedding ceremony. That sense of foreboding had caused me to pick Sarah as my second when as I would probably need medical care by the time John was raking me over the coals. He suddenly grabbed my right hand tightly, and he began to speak our vows.

I am a dead man! That was the only coherent thought in my mind.

"Oh my dearest Matthew, words can not describe what emotions fill me at the thought of this, our wedding day. I can only hope that each day together lasts an eternity, so you can know exactly how I feel. No one makes me feel the way you do Matt. I'm burning, right now. You bring out depths of feeling in me that I never knew I had."

The translator spoke rapidly in Pyxian, and the crowd appeared to be delighted in John’s feelings for me.

He wants to kill me, you idiots!

I tried to calm him down. "John, you're such a gentle and understanding person ...Able to forgive anyone, no matter what they've done."

"Matt, you always plow ahead with what needs to be done to find the Cure, no matter the consequences..." His tone was acidic, and inwardly I flinched.

"John, you have always stood beside me, in good or bad, even when I did things you didn't completely agree with."

"Your dedication astounds me."

"John, the strength of your feelings toward me, truly amazes me and frightens me." He was going to kill me in our martial bed that I just knew. Things had gotten downright hairy when Max had been going over the wedding rituals. Naked? At the wedding? When Max had told the two of us that we were going to have to consummate our relationship in front of the guests, John had nearly thrown the towel in, right then and there.

"Matt, I truly can't put into words what I'm feeling right now."

Your eyes are plainly saying that … I, Matthew Gideon, am a goddamn dead man, and when you are done with me; they will have to search the galaxy for my ashes, as I’m on a one-way trip to the Galactic-Core.

"Then don't John, the look in your eyes is enough for me. John, I've always been impressed by your restraint and self-control and how you always give people a chance to explain before you pass Judgement..."

He interrupted me, quickly with a vapid smile on his face. "Matt, I'm truly amazed at how well you think things out."

"John, I've always thought of you as a very gentle person."

"But my feelings for you have brought out a new strength in me, I fear."

This is gonna really hurt. Even more than the betel leaves.

"John, I have always greatly valued our friendship, through thick and thin."

"Matt, of all the gifts you can give me, you offer yourself. I am overwhelmed. Actually I'm ... almost speechless with delight."

"John, you don't need to give me any gifts, just your kind heart."

"Matt, I look so forward to showing you exactly how I feel, all night long."

"John, I look forward to discovering the gentle mysteries of love with you. I only hope that I'm strong enough to face this new relationship between us, John."

"I also hope that you're strong enough to face this new relationship, Matt. It will require a great deal of work and effort, Matt, and at times you'll just want to give it all up, but I'll be right beside you always goading you and encouraging you with softly spoken words of support. But don't worry, Matt, I'll make sure we work it out together, no matter how long it takes. All married couples should learn the art of battle as they should learn the art of making love. Good battle is objective and honest - never vicious or cruel. Good battle is healthy and constructive, and brings to a marriage the principle of equal partnership.

"John, remember that holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life. The essence of true friendship is to make allowances for another's little lapses. Friendship is love with understanding."

Fortunately the translator wasn’t as gifted as I was, because her translation managed to completely miss John’s obvious dislike of his superior officer.

Then there was the exchange of gifts. Matthew gave John a goose, which I glibly was able to explain as part of John's culture, and that it represented long-life and fidelity. Actually, I really thought that it was Matt admitting loud and clear that he knew his goose was cooked, but I figured I didn't really need to get into that.

He also gave John a remarkable metal dragon, with four toes. I was amazed that Gideon had actually researched the gift enough to get the correct number of toes on the Korean dragon and I was amused to note the extremely fine detailing of the dragon. It obviously cost Gideon several paychecks as a master crafter had made the damn thing. It even had the correct number of Ying and Yang scales totaling one hundred and seventeen. He offered it hopefully to John, obviously hoping that John would like it as it represented Cheong-nyong, was the mythical guardian of ancient Korea, who had guarded the East from evil. He then also assured John that in front of witnesses, that he could run the next thirty planetside missions.

Sarah and I exchanged looks that plainly said that Gideon was in dire fear of his life and was attempting to appease Matheson in any possible way. A somber John gave Matt a cactus with a knife.

I stared at the cactus dubiously. What can I say about this gift?

"Ah. Honorable Translator? The esteemed Dowager would like to know the symbolism of this gift?"

"Succor and safety." I began rattling off, wondering what would happen when I couldn’t explain away John’s obvious hatred for Matt. To me, this obviously stated that Matt either was to sit on the cactus, or that Matt was going to have his jugulars slashed. "No matter how tough things will be between them, always will there be water and food. The knife is used to cut the cactus, so that the water can be drunk, and the meat of the cactus can be eaten."

"And the sharp spines?"

"Ahh... they're a symbol of their mutual protection, how they'll defend each other against trouble."

The ceremony was long, and I just couldn't concentrate on the long words in a foreign language. What can I say? I was goddamn cold, and there was a breeze. Throughout the ceremony, the priest would be babbling in Pyxian and she would stop. That was my time to say "Yes!" and take a drink of something from the ceremonial cup. I was drinking something that tasted like honey and it burned like fire. I was feeling deliciously warm, and the glow was settling in my belly so I was drinking a great deal of it, taking long swallows whenever it was offered to me. This stuff was GREAT! I was definitely getting a buzz, feeling rather mellow and relaxed and then I realized... that it had a little added side effect.


Lord. This was humiliating.

Naked in front of a small gathering of aliens, and I was sporting a raging hard on. John Matheson hadn't drunk as much of the stuff as I had, taking a few sips of the stuff when we were suppose to drink from the matrimonial cup. In spite of my desire to know, I had refrained from looking to see if the stuff had affected him as badly as it had me.

He obviously had seen that I was prepared for launch as his hand was suddenly really painfully clutching my own.

The marriage ceremony completed, it was time for the public consummation of our marriage. Sarah cut the cords separating us and I put my desperate plan into action. I had read the unauthorized Biography of Susan Ivanova, and I had remembered how she had confused those particular aliens with the alleged sex act, so I whispered at John to trust me and to remember a certain passage from "Biography of a Space Goddess." I had let him read it after I had finished it and we had both laughed over the sex scene. "Trust me", I whispered again at him.

Wrong word to use as his dark eyes froze over. I then proceeded to dance and strut while John remained unmovable. "Zippity boppity boo, put it together and what do you have? Fantastia. Move power to the main guns." I rambled for a good fifteen minutes until John decided to put us all out of my misery and he screamed in a pretend climax.

Then the faker collapsed in my arms, so I had to hold him upright after he "accidentally" kicked me in my bad knee. I wish he hadn’t done that, as the stuff flowing through my veins made me very aware of the fact that both of our arousals were slightly rubbing against each other. There was a loud burst of noise from the aliens, as apparently they really liked my technique. Thankfully the fact that only the translator spoke our language was coming in handy, as no doubt Max was lying to her about my sweet nothings to John.

Max was called quickly up to where the dowager sat, and John Matheson was still in my arms.

"She’s not using a translator, Matt. The translators been sent away, and now she’s speaking to Max in Standard."

Oh shit. We hadn’t fooled her, I realized. Max was talking very fast and he was waving his hands and then Sarah was called up to the Dowager. When they returned to us, I knew things had failed miserably.

"She wasn’t happy with your foreplay, Captain. Apparently she speaks Standard fluently, and the Dowager wasn’t impressed. She wants to know if you think her people are fools."

Well, yes, I did, as the majority of the aliens appeared to have enjoyed their brief encounter with Alien Sex. A few had taken notes, and had left the party early to try it out at home with their partners.

"I explained to her that you wished not to embarrass John in front of her people with the exact details of sexual intercourse and that among our people, the wedding night is a private matter."

That might work, as the Dowager really liked John. She had unofficially ‘adopted’ him as a grandson, so she could throw this damn bash.

"She accepted that, but now, she wants to make sure that this is consummated in a marital bed. That way it’s legal, and if you try to cast him aside, he’ll have legal recourse."

Marital Bed? TRY MARTIAL, MAX. It’s closer to the truth.

"Ok." I said. We could pretend even easier in the martial… marital… bed, as there wouldn’t be any witnesses to that. Wait a second, what’s Eilerson’s saying?

"Sarah and I have to witness it, as does the translators, who have been briefed on the peculiarities of human intercourse. When the marriage is consummated, we’re to fire a gun, and that way the party will continue for a bit."

"Is that it?" I asked, while I kept an eye on John, who was being entirely too quiet.

"No. For the length of time that you’re on the planet, you’re to stay here with her. She says that you remind her too much of her second husband, so she’s going to have to make sure that you let John run the planetside team.

Wonderful. Kill me now, please?

Sarah led me to my wedding bed, with much hooting and cheering from the aliens. It was a large and wide bed, as apparently the Pyxians liked their beds the size of a launching pad. Quickly, I crawled into bed, wishing that I had never become a starship captain. They never warned me about this happening at the Academy!

Max growled at John, telling him brusquely that he could probably find the bed by himself and he proceeded to sit down in a chair, facing Sarah. The two translators sat down next to them, and I heard their soft voices tittering and chattering away.

"I can't believe this. All those years in graduate school and I'm here, watching this. Matt. John. Can you please HURRY and get it over with?" Max’s voice was acidic.

I had covered myself with the sheet, not wanting to display my priapism for the entire universe to see, but it didn't work. You took one look at the bed, and you could see a suspicious-looking mountainous, towering, soaring, alp-like bulge under the sheet. Whatever I had drunk made me extremely sensitive to the touch, and the smooth fabric on my body was driving me crazy.

John climbed into the bed next to me, his dark eyes unreadable. The bed shifted underneath his weight, and suddenly I was really nervous. I knew that I had destroyed John’s trust in me with this entire damn thing. Sure, if I was rational, the possibility of saving ten billion people’s lives should outweigh the fact that in the process I had angered John, but for me, it didn’t. One man’s trust, so rarely given, I had casually destroyed.

John, really, I had tried my best for this not to happen.

"John." I whispered softly to him, not wanting Eilerson and Chambers to hear me. "I can't do this. I've never done this before, and I can't do this in front of them. Do you understand?"

I almost felt sorry for Matt, as he was in over his head. Every sneaky thing he had tried had backfired on him, causing us to end up here. Secretly, I had enjoyed the fact that Matthew was just growing more and more befuddled with this situation and the fact that everything he tried, the Dowager had neatly predicted. That was until I found out that the marriage ceremony involved the two naked celebrants consummating their marriage in front of the wedding guests.

I was still vainly hoping that we could just exchange vows and eat cake., God knows I'd love to smash a piece of cake into Matt's face or maybe, a hundred year old piece of fruitcake. Might knock him unconscious. Hell, if worse came to worse, I knew I had some packages of betel leaves around here somewhere.

I had not realize that I’d be responsible for ENTERTAINING the wedding guests, and my furor had grown when I realized that the Dowager was willing to host a large enough spread to have the entire ship’s crew down to watch.

That had really pissed me off. MATTHEW! What the hell were you thinking? I’d like to know, please. So, in my anger, I had asked Max to second me at the wedding ceremony, as I knew that he and Galen were the ones that it would humiliate Matt the most to have them watch and comment.

His attempts at alien sex would have been laughable, except for the fact that I had hoping that it would work. I had made him prance around for a good twenty minutes, his eyes growing more and more wild until I had finally screamed in a mock climax. My cry of pretend passion had echoed in the hall, and the aliens had cheered wildly. Max and Sarah had applauded also, as I could imagine that they had just wanted to get the hell away from this before they started to laugh.

Then I had collapsed in his arms, after kicking him hard in his knee. He had always favored that knee as he had injured it during a firefight a few years ago on some planet whose name completely escapes me. He had held onto me tightly, pretending a lover-like pose, while I had suddenly realized that damn wedding wine had made me slightly too sensitive for my own good. Matt had shifted his weight to support my ‘limp’ frame, and our bodies had rubbed together, causing a sense of warm arousal to spread throughout my body.

NO. He was my commanding officer.

The marriage ‘consummated’ Terran-style, I would be able to get clothed, and return to the ship. Then I would lock myself in my quarters, and self-gratify myself until I was able to walk normally again. Matthew was still supporting me, whispering how sorry he was, when suddenly I heard Max being called over to the Dowager’s chair.

It hadn’t worked as she spoke Standard. She was not happy with Matt, not at all, and I suddenly realized that Matthew had only angered her further with his attempts at non-consummation. It was too funny, that she was claiming that she was defending my honor, and that’s why I was here, naked with my CO’s arms around me.

The verdict? We had to consummate our relationship in front of witnesses, but for my sake, we were going to do it in bed. IN FRONT OF EILERSON AND CHAMBERS.

Matt’s eyes displayed how uncomfortable he was with this, and he had hesitantly admitted that this was his first time doing this. Wonderful. He was a bloody virgin, which meant I had to handle the gory details, which in turn meant that I could really hurt him if I wasn’t careful. Lord knows I wanted to hurt him but that wouldn’t be right.

I then softly asked him to give me permission to do a surface scan on him. His eyes widened and I quickly explained why. "That way I won’t hurt you accidentally."

"Can’t." Matt looked ashamed. "I’m on blockers."

BLOCKERS? They were prototype drugs, not even approved yet, in which Mundanes were blocked from being scanned by Paths. He didn’t trust me. NOT AT ALL. Matthew had thought about what might have happened if everything failed, and realized that we might have to reach this spot. So he had blocked himself from me, because he didn’t trust me not to scan him.

His lack of faith in me angered me again, and I vowed that Matthew Gideon wouldn’t be able to walk normally for a few weeks by the time I was done with him. As he had screwed me with this, now it was time for me to fuck him over. Put a bag over your head, Matt, this might save ten billion people.

It had better.

I had taken the blockers just in case things had reached this point. A good starship captain prepares for everything, and so I had prepared myself for the off chance that perhaps… we’d actually have to do this. John, being a Telepath, would have heard my distaste for this entire thing, loud and clear, and for John, I’m sure it would be like participating in a rape.

So, I had asked Sarah for blockers, and she had given them to me after giving me the warning about possible side effects. I didn’t care if I suddenly went cross-eyed, bald and my skin erupted in purple blotches as John Matheson wouldn’t be hearing me mentally scream in revulsion. I’m not against same sex relationships but it’s just that I’ve never found John that particularly attractive. John Matheson was a friend, and fucking him had never ever crossed my mind. Up until now, he had been the person I trusted most in the world, as least as much as I was capable of trusting.

I had blown that badly, I could tell by the look in his dark eyes.

John sighed and his voice was cold. "You just lie on your back, and I’ll do everything."

"Ok." Any other time, I might have tried to make light of this situation, but John wasn’t in a jovial mood tonight.

I lay on my back, and focused on the rotating fan overhead, in the hopes that this might be over quickly and painlessly. John had straddled me around my waist, and he was using his hands on me. He was stroking my shoulder and chest, and I was trying to relax. Normally, I really liked this particular position, with whomever on top, while I could relax and enjoy.

Didn’t work. Instead, I grew more and more tense, as John got more and more annoyed.

He leaned over me, pretending to kiss me, but instead he hissed "Relax!"

So, I tried, and focused on the fan again. That didn’t work, so I closed my eyes, and pretended that the person who was on top of me was anybody else but my really pissed off first officer. I was relaxing, enjoying the physical exercise; things were going fine, when suddenly who the fuck was I kidding? The first attempt failed miserably and I could hear Max moaning in the background. "Sarah. You’re going to have to help them."

"WHAT?" She wasn’t happy and I nearly jumped out of the bed.

"It’s your responsibility to help them over this little difficulty."

"WHAT?" Sarah seemed to be stuck on that one word right now.

"Tradition has it that when there’s difficulty in consummating the marriage, it’s because a witch has taken the man’s virility." That was one of the translators, who sounded mortified at what was going on. Trust me, Lizard face, it ain’t much better on the stage than what you’re viewing in the front row seats. "Therefore a trusted, older female friend…"

"OLDER? OLDER? Like hell I’m older than Matt. OLDER? OLDER!"

Sarah apparently had a new word to repeat, but she didn’t seem any happier.

"Traditionally, Sarah. TRADITIONALLY." Max interrupted.

"To assist them in this matter. I would think that they would prefer to have you help them along, as … we’re a completely different species."

"Take your top off, and do it for Earth, Sarah. I’m leaving this entire thing out of my memoirs, so it’s not going to be part of the mini-series. Ok?"

"MAX! I am not taking my top off."

"Then I’ll have to do it, and show them where everything matches up."

There was a sound of a jacket being taken off, and I had to close my eyes again. "Oh dear god, no. No." I was whispering that over and over again, because I didn’t want the dowager’s spies to hear me.

It hadn’t worked, and Max was now taking his jacket off to show us how to properly do things. It would have been hysterically funny seeing the look of absolute horror in Matt’s face if it wasn’t for the fault that I was going to be part of the tutorial process. Matt was shaking underneath me, and if I weren’t so damn mad at him, I’d really feel sorry for him.

Savagely, I crushed my feelings of compassion for Matt. He had gotten himself and ME into this, so fuck the nice routine. But getting Max in the bed wouldn’t have helped at all, and for a moment, I wondered if I could specifically request Sarah. At least Sarah was attractive, unlike the terrified man underneath me, the older man taking off his jacket and the two lizard people staring at each other in horror.

"Wait." I spoke quickly. "Get more of that damn wine. Can you?" I didn’t want to be exceeding drunk when I did this, as the potential for hurting Matt was too high. Yes, he deserved it, but for some asinine reason I felt some sort of loyalty to the quiet man underneath me, who was shaking in a fear so strong that I could taste it. Why the hell are you so afraid of me, Matthew? Don’t you trust me? I’m not the one that got us into this fucking mess.

"Actually," Max snapped his fingers. "That stuff is laced, isn’t it?"

"Yes." Admitted the translator, who obviously wished that she had never signed up for the Berlitz language course in Standard. "It’s a root that grows wild. It’s called." She spit something out that sounded like a cat throwing up a hairball.

"Sarah? Heard of it? Think you might be able to whip something up in your medical bag, shoot the boys up with it, and then we’re out of here? And can you do it quickly? Cigi isn’t gonna be happy, I can just tell."

I collapsed on the bed, purposely not touching Matthew. Get it over with, please? I begged to anyone that might be interesting. Matt rolled up in a ball, and he just wasn’t talking to anyone. Great, the virginal Captain Courageous is in the middle of having a complete meltdown. Fucking goddamn wonderful.

Sarah hemmed and hawed, while Max and the translator made a lot of noise as though Matthew and I were having wild sex. One of the lizard people jumped up and down on the bed, and broke a slat, I believe as the mattress suddenly sagged, causing Matt to slide into me. He moved away from me quickly, as though burned.

Max tore a sheet, and Sarah was trying her hardest not to laugh.

"They’re just having sex, not attempting to break the furniture or break a bone."

I was vainly trying to maintain some sort of dignity in this situation, which is quite impossible, if you think about it. Imagine, lying naked underneath the sheets of a bed in which several lizard people are making all sorts of happy-sex noises while there’s a noticeable party going on outside. You’d hope that the lizards guys would be a little less enthusiastic, because every once in a while you’d hear a rather raucous response from the people outside due to the rather extreme alien ‘sex’ noises the lizard people were making. Meanwhile your favorite pain in the ass in making helpful suggestions to the rather furious man next to you while your doctor is trying to drug you into completing the act and the goddamn translator broke the fucking bed… NO, I WILL NOT USE THAT WORD IN RELATIONSHIP TO BED.

If the cure was on the planet, and I got the Medal of Honor for this, I’d refuse it.


If I found out that this was some sort of joke by the Apocalypse Box, then I was going to chop it for kindling wood after I single handedly removed every damn Drakh from the universe with my bare hands. You see… because nothing, NOTHING, is going to ever redeem me in John Matheson’s eyes after this stunt.

I had to admire him, the way he’s calmly lying in bed, wearing nothing but a sheet. If someone didn’t know better, you’d think that he was his usual composed self, calmly accepting Max’s rather obscene suggestions about what to do with his frigid bride, that being me.

Things had been progressing, when I suddenly opened my eyes and realized that it was John Matheson stroking me rather than some nameless person. Mood ruined faster than you can say coitus interrupted. That’s why everyone was running around like we were in a Reebo and Zooti movie, because Frick, one of the translators had suddenly gotten hysterical. Max had tried to calm him down, until he could figure out what Frick’s problem was. Bluntly, he had thought that Cigi would shoot the entire group of us because we would make her look bad after she had threw the party of the century for her new grandson, John.


Death might be preferable right now I have to admit. Well, for me, at least. I’m sure that a certain someone might agree that my death would make things a lot easier for him.

I am sorry, John. Truly, I am.


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